The Hush Post|11:09 am |one-minute-read|
In a major disappointment, communications from Chandrayaan-2 to ISRO’s ground station was lost minutes before touchdown. This, even as the entire nation awaited its soft landing on the lunar south pole in the early hours of Saturday. This part of the moon has been completely unexplored till now.
PM Modi was seen comforting and hugging rocket man K Sivan after the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander lost contact with ISRO.
As the powered descent of the lander began at around 1.38 am, scientists at ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) here were glued to their terminals, anticipating the soft landing. They clapped and cheered as the moon lander completed the rough braking phase before the fine braking phase started. The scientists went into a huddle. ISRO Chairman K Sivan was seen engaged in intense discussions with some scientists.
Soon after, he announced that the Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to altitude of 2.1 km. It was then that communications from lander to ground station were lost.
Minutes later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked ISRO scientists to “be courageous” and hope for the best. Modi, who witnessed the proceedings at ISRO, told the scientific community that the country was proud of them and asked them to be courageous.
“Be courageous…Hope for the best,” Modi told the scientists.
Later in a tweet, Modi said, “India is proud of our scientists! They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be! Chairman @isro gave updates on Chandrayaan-2. We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme.”
As per a timeline released earlier by ISRO, the lander Vikram was to land at 1:53 am and the rover Pragyan was scheduled to roll down a ramp at 5:19 am. In an extraordinary moment, the rover was to click a photograph of the lander at 5:45 am.
Chandrayaan 2 had taken off from India’s spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 22. The spacecraft used in the mission comprised of an orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a rover called Pragyan almost entirely designed and made in India.
The orbiter has a mission life of a year and will take images of the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan 1 orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water. ISRO chairman K Sivan has said that landing on the lunar surface involves a lot of technical complexities — an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”